Inside Minister Karl Nehammer stated of the raid: “The constant motion towards right-wing extremism is just not solely a part of the historic accountability, but additionally a transparent advocacy of our democratic coexistence in Austria.”
It wasn’t the primary motion towards alleged neo-Nazis in Austria this yr. In July, police seized automated weapons and hand grenades in coordinated raids towards a biker gang whose chief deliberate to ascertain a “militia of the respectable” that may “overturn the system.”
Assist for Nazism is a felony offense in Austria. Probably the most distinguished neo-Nazi determine is Gottfried Kuessel, who was sentenced to a nine-year jail time period in 2013 for propagating Nazism on-line. It was his second conviction.
Bernhard Weidinger, who research the far proper on the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance in Vienna, says that the criminalization of Nazi ideology has ensured that it’s neither notably sturdy nor organized.
“However what we do have is a really excessive frequency of weapons finds,” he instructed CNN.
Neo-Nazi exercise in Europe is often related to biker gangs, organized crime and soccer followers. In Austria, a bunch known as the Immortal comply with the membership Fast Vienna, typically displaying the Reich Struggle flag at matches. In Italy, fan teams often called Ultras undertake fascist slogans and monikers.
In Austria, as elsewhere in Europe, the neo-Nazi scene contains virulent strains of each anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism.
In Austria, 12% of individuals aged 18 to 34 stated that they had by no means heard of the Holocaust. Austria additionally had the best variety of folks within the survey — 4 out of 10 adults — who stated they knew “just a bit” concerning the Holocaust. And a 3rd of Austrians (32%) stated Jewish folks have an excessive amount of affect on enterprise and finance all over the world, echoing a long-standing anti-Semitic trope.
Austria is grappling with the legacy of anti-Semitism in different methods. For nearly a decade, a statue in Vienna has been on the middle of that troubled historical past. It’s of Karl Lueger, the town’s mayor initially of the twentieth century. Lueger exploited anti-Jewish feeling in his bid for workplace, emphasizing Christian and Germanic supremacy, and was a lot admired by Adolf Hitler.
The bronze statue, 4 meters excessive, has been defaced however nonetheless stands in a distinguished place in a Vienna sq.. Metropolis authorities determined this month that it will stay in place however be set in context.
Sellner has change into a number one mild within the Identitarian motion which opposes mass migration and desires Europe to have a homogenic white and Christian identification. They see this identification being offered out by political elites dedicated to multiculturalism.
Austrian authorities prosecuted him and 16 others utilizing anti-Mafia legal guidelines in 2018, accusing them of hate speech and felony affiliation. After a high-profile trial they had been acquitted.
Analysts make a distinction between conventional neo-Nazis — whose actions are based mostly on violence and crime — and the rising Identitarian teams, that are political. Moreover Sellner and the IBO in Austria, they embrace Génération Identitaire in France and the Neue Rechte (New Proper) in Germany.
In Vienna, Gottfried Kuessel — now out of jail — and others beforehand related to neo-Nazism joined marches towards lockdown.
Weidinger says it is notable that in addition they seem to have attracted a youthful technology — folks of their twenties — to affix them. They’ve additionally begun to prepare their very own protest for the primary time in a few years, he instructed CNN.
In a video message, Sellner instructed the protesters they may mobilize a “broad, patriotic mass” to struggle the “grand technique” of world elites. Members of the Reichsburger group tried to drive their method into the parliament, a symbolic act meant to recall the Nazis’ burning of the Reichstag.
In each Germany and Austria, the extra excessive factions converse of “Day X” — an apocalyptic fantasy when democratic establishments will collapse in a tide of violence and a neo-Nazi state can be born.
The ‘mainstream’ proper
There may be some ideological overlap between Identitarian teams and Europe’s established right-wing events, such because the Freedom Social gathering in Austria, the Nationwide Rally (previously the Nationwide Entrance) in France, and Matteo Salvini’s Northern League in Italy.
“In a time when Europe is dealing with a severe demographic disaster with low beginning charges and ageing inhabitants, pro-family coverage making must be a solution as a substitute of mass immigration,” they stated.
Bernhard Weidinger says that the Identitarians provide what he describes as “crucial solidarity” to the Freedom Social gathering (FPO), which dominates the suitable in Austria. He says that now the Freedom Social gathering is in opposition in Austria after a spell in a authorities coalition it has tilted additional proper, depriving the IBO of territory of its personal.
The European far-right is a fractured setting, the place political activism and calls to violence overlap, and teams develop and morph rapidly. A lot of it’s on-line or underground, but it surely has been given new impetus — in each Europe and America — by lockdowns, vaccination mandates and an epidemic of conspiracy theories.
The place it coalesces — a minimum of in spirit — is on the problems of cultural identification and migration, which teams such because the Austrian IBO regard as an imminent existential menace.
In June this yr, the Austrian parliament handed a regulation banning the symbols of the IBO and one other group, “The Austrians,” basically conflating them with terror teams.